A funny thing happened last month on Ubuntu release day. Instead of upgrading my installation of Ubuntu Studio as originally planned I did a crazy thing and returned to the welcoming embrace of my very first desktop Linux distribution, Linux Mint. And not just for the cheeky Terminal art shown above.
Kindly note that this isn’t going to be a post about bashing Ubuntu’s Unity — you can look elsewhere for that. I’d just like to point out some reasons why you might want to consider Mint — like if you’re an Ubuntu refugee and the very thought of Unity makes you seethe with rage.
Hmm, this might be harder than I thought…
This is the first and most obvious reason for considering Linux Mint. if you’ve used any standard version of Ubuntu (up to the fabled “perfect ten“) then you’ll feel right at home with Mint’s bog-standard GNOME 2.32 desktop environment.
It’s also worth pointing out that the MintMenu is a godsend for anyone used to Microsoft Windows — in fact, it’s a much better execution (I think) of the Start Menu in XP. It would be tempting to position Mint as Linux for Windows users and Ubuntu for those used to Mac OS X, but such an idea does Linux Mint a great disservice. Ditto for OS X.
Damn, there I go again.
It’s more than the familiar environment that makes Mint such a joy to use. There are thoughtful touches all over — like the ability to right-click on a folder to open it with root privileges, or right-click within a folder to open up a Terminal pointed there.
The powerful Compiz is installed by default, as are all the audio and video codecs you’ll likely need in day-to-day use. And while much hoopla has been made about Ubuntu finally dropping Evolution for Thunderbird (does anyone actually use Evolution?) Mint has had the Mozilla email client on board for as long as I can remember.
For me, using Linux Mint is more than just a matter of personal convenience — it’s a political decision. Like Cyanogen for Android Mint is very much a community-based effort, an idea that I find extremely appealing.
And if you think that’s a pile of horseshit please disregard and read on…
Though I don’t visit often I find the Linux Mint Forums to be generally more useful than their Ubuntu counterparts. The only metric I have for this is that I’ve found less dead ends there — you know, threads that go: “Hey, I can’t get ___ to work. Little help? Hello?! Bump bump bump…”
Mint also has its own official weekly podcast, and while it might not yet have the impressive international following that the Linux Outlaws enjoy it’s definitely worth subscribing to. Their recent special on Linux and education was particularly good.
Room For Improvement
Honestly, the only fault I can find with Mint (at least the GNOME version) is purely cosmetic: the icons on the indicator applet are spaced too far apart. It’s a documented issue and hardly a deal-breaker.
Linux Mint clearly has a lot to offer, but I guess a lot of you already knew that; according to DistroWatch it’s been the most popular Linux distribution on the planet for at least the past seven days. Wonder if Unity has anything to do with that? Sorry, couldn’t resist.
If you’re using something else I’m not here to tell you that Mint is better, just that it’s perfectly suited for my needs of the moment, and that I’m proud to be a part of its community of users.